Struggle for queer liberation is resistance to State repression, demand release of Pride 20!

In time for the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City, Philippine human rights alliance Karapatan asserted that “despite the many gains of the LGBTQ+ community over the last decades, the militant struggle for genuine equality and queer liberation continues in our resistance against all forms of discrimination, oppression, and repression” as the group assailed the violent dispersal of a Pride March in Mendiola, Manila earlier today, June 26, which led to the arrest of at least 20 Pride protesters. 

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated that “51 years after the Stonewall uprising against police raids of gay bars in New York City, the Philippine National Police is shamelessly continuing this despicable tradition of macho-fascist police brutality and State repression even in the middle of Pride Month.”

“The police had no basis to violently disperse the Pride March more so to arrest many of those who participated in the protest since the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act has already expired. There is no other way to describe this violent dispersal as a blatant attack on the LGBTQ+ community and its long history of militant resistance against State repression, especially amid the looming passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. This is an attack on our democratic rights! Garapalan na lang talaga ang kapulisan, sa mismong Pride Month pa talaga sila maghahasik ng lagim,” Palabay continued.

Despite observing physical distancing protocols and negotiations with elements of the Manila Police District (MPD) to allow at least two leaders to speak in the Pride March program, the MPD proceeded to violently disperse the protest and arrested at least 20 members of Bahaghari, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, and Gabriela. 13 among the arrested are members of the LGBTQ+ community. The MPD also attempted to arrest an intern of independent media outlet Manila Today who was covering the protest as they drove the organizations’ private vehicles to bring them to the MPD Headquarters in Ermita.

The Karapatan officer averred that “today’s arrests are not the first time that the police and other law enforcement officials attacked the LGBTQ+ community under the guise of enforcing lockdown measures,” citing an incident last April 5 in Brgy. Pandacaqui, Mexico, Pampanga, where barangay officials detained three LGBTQ+ individuals who were outside after curfew and punished them by ordering them to kiss, dance, and perform push-ups in a video livestreamed on social media. They were publicly humiliated as they were also identified by their names in the video.

“Misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia are already dangerous forms of discrimination on their own — and they become more sinister, more insidious when exhibited, perpetuated, and reinforced by State forces, including none other than the president himself. Along with worsening violations of people’s socio-economic rights, civil liberties, and police violence amid the lockdown, terrifying forms of State-perpetrated sexual violence, discrimination, and human rights violations are being committed with impunity as penalties to enforce the lockdown and to suppress dissent and protests,” she said.

“Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community’s plight and struggles and it is certainly a protest movement. Bahaghari’s Pride protest this year touched on an issue that concerns not only the community but citizens of all genders and sexual orientations. We are compelled to speak out and take action against policies that will strongly impact citizens’ rights and civil liberties and can worsen State-perpetrated misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. We strongly call on the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to condemn these unlawful arrests and demand that the police release the arrested Pride protesters! Stand for our rights and fight back! Makibeki, ‘wag mashokot!,” Palabay ended.